Aphorism of the Week
Heaven is best appreciated by entering through the stairway, not the elevator.
Dedicated to the musical achievements of Whitney Houston, who died 40 years too early.
Parable of the Week
The Three-Legged Stool, The Four-Legged Stool
Carpenters ran neighboring shops in a small village courtyard.
One carpenter, a well-to-do man, fashioned a satin-cushioned stool with three legs. It was lustrous, with ornate frill and spindly, curved legs -- and all who came to see it in his fancy shop window applauded its great beauty.
The other carpenter, a poorer and much less talkative man, had also fashioned a stool, but with four legs. It was boxy, much like a straight wooden chair with no back -- and all who walked by where it sat on the stoop of the second carpenter's shop ignored it, or whispered, "That poor carpenter is so boring and old-fashioned!"
Yet one day, the Chieftain, with his young prince in tow, came to the village to shop -- and all the villagers peered over each other's shoulders as the entourage marched into the courtyard of the two carpenters.
The Chieftain glanced at the rich carpenter, who, surrounded by the villagers, genuflected deeply as he gestured expectantly at the gilded, three-legged stool in the shop window.
Then the Chieftain looked at the poor carpenter, who stood alone in his shop's doorway -- and at his thick, boxy, four-legged stool.
"Which stool do you want, my son?" asked the Chieftain, turning to look down to his young boy.
"Oh, the pretty one, Father!" exclaimed the young prince.
As the crowd applauded the young prince, the Chieftain said, "Bring out the stool for my son!" The first carpenter went into his shop window, lifted out his ornate, three-legged stool from its glass enclosure, and placed it before the prince.
"Bring out that one, too!" said the Chieftain, pointing at the unadorned, wooden four-legged stool. As the crowd laughed at his drab stool, the second carpenter reached down and placed it before the young prince.
"My son," said the Chieftain, "sit on your stool."
And thus did the prince hop onto his gracefully-made, upholstered, three-legged stool, and fall flat onto his backside as the stool toppled over.
As the crowd murmured, the Chieftain reached his hand down to his son, raised him up, and brushed off the dirt from his satin-robed bottom.
"My son," he said gently, "now try this other stool."
The prince sat on the other stool gingerly, then began trying to rock it over, but it was so boxy that it refused even to wobble.
"Father, this stool isn't pretty, but it works! I want this one!"
The Chieftain smiled at his heir for the lesson he'd won that day -- and rewarded the nervous first carpenter with his thanks, but the second carpenter with his gold.
Thus, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but usefulness is not.
February 12, 2012, excerpt from The Parables of Reason (Chapter 3, "Emotion's Mastery"), ©2007-2012 by Frank H. Burton, Ph.D., Founder and Executive Director, The Circle of Reason. All rights reserved.